Uncle Ted Tickets the Prophet

My Great Uncle Ted was the eighth Colonel of the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP).  He had a reputation for hard work and absolute honesty and integrity. His catchphrases were: “No one is above the law” and “No one gets a break because of who they are.”

Trooper Ted’s reputation for stalwart integrity was solidified when he gave his own wife a traffic ticket. She was so angry she refused to speak to him or cook for him for three weeks. Decades later, she was still miffed.

Ted’s son said that sometimes it was a nightmare being related to him. He said, “Whenever a UHP officer stopped me, he would ask for my license. When the officer saw my name, he would ask if I were related to Ted. When I confirmed that Ted was my father, the officer would inevitably reply, ‘Sorry, I was just going to give you a warning but your dad said that if any of his officers gave someone a break because of who they were, that officer would have to answer to him. So, I am going to have to give you a ticket.’”

David O. McKay

David O. McKay, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, had a reputation for deep spirituality…and for speeding. He liked to drive fast.

Uncle Ted patrolled the canyons east of Ogden where David O. McKay lived. It was only  a matter of time before the honest cop and the speeding prophet would connect. It was like the proverbial irresistible force colliding with the immovable object.

So, one day, Officer Ted caught President McKay speeding. Ted flipped on the lights of his patrol car and pulled the prophet over.

“I pulled you over because you were speeding,” Ted explained, “license and registration.”  David O. McKay responded, “Have you forgotten who I am?”

“Of course not,” Ted responded. “You are David O. McKay –  Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…and you were speeding. License and registration.”

Decades later when I confirmed this family lore, I told Ted “I can’t believe you gave the prophet a ticket! It’s good he didn’t hold a grudge.”

Ted responded, “What do you mean he didn’t hold a grudge? His secretary telephoned me a few days later and said that President McKay wanted to see me in his office in Salt Lake the following week.” Ted continued, “As I walked into Church Headquarters a couple of General Authorities recognized me and teased, ‘I hear you gave the Prophet a ticket.’ What do you mean, he didn’t hold a grudge? He sat me down in his office and called me as Bishop.”

Sometimes, integrity comes at a cost.

(Sources: London family folklore; Personal interview with Uncle Ted and his wife and son;  History of the Utah Highway Patrol, by Les Langford; by David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, by G. Prince and Wm. Wright, University of Utah Press, 2005, p. 19, 25)

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